If you have varicose veins, you are in good company! Approximately 55 percent of women and 45 percent of men in the United States suffer from some type of vein problem.
Varicose veins are caused by weak or damaged valves in the veins of the legs. The heart pumps blood to the body through the arteries and the veins then carry the blood back to the heart. Healthy leg veins have valves that act as one-way flaps to prevent blood from flowing backwards, but if these valves become weak or damaged, blood leaks back down into the legs and pressure builds. The veins stretch from this increased pressure and become enlarged, swollen and twisted. This is known as venous insufficiency.
Symptoms of Varicose Veins
Some people experience few or no symptoms from their varicose veins, but, usually in more severe cases of venous insufficiency, one or more of the following symptoms occurs:
- Heaviness, aching, tiredness, burning, or pain in your legs.
- Swelling in your legs, feet and ankles.
- Cramping or throbbing, especially after sitting or standing for long periods of time.
- Restless legs, especially at night while sleeping.
- Itching over the vein.
- Skin changes, such as changes in color, scaling, thinning or inflammation.
Possible Health Problems from Varicose Veins
- Severe cases of venous insufficiency can cause chronic swelling due to the long-term backing up of blood that can result in serious skin and tissue problems, such as venous ulcers and varicose eczema. These ulcers are painful and difficult to heal.
- Because the skin over the veins becomes thin and is easily injured, individuals sometimes experience open sores or heavy bleeding after a minor injury.
- The pressure from varicose veins can cause blood to penetrate through the weakened vein walls and leak into the tissue, causing patches of brown or red discoloration.
- In cases of extreme leg swelling, skin tissue can break down and infections can develop.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, consider speaking with a vein specialist at Medicus Vein Care.